Spark: Transform Your World, One Small Risk at a Time

Spark: Transform Your World, One Small Risk at a Time

by Jason Jaggard

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307730626
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/21/2012
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

JASON JAGGARD is CEO/Founder of Spark Good, a company passionate about unleashing creative potential in individuals and organizations. He is the creator of Spark Groups, an experience thousands of people worldwide have participated in at universities, corporations, faith communities, non-profits, homeless shelters, and in other settings. Before starting Spark Good, Jason worked on staff at Mosaic, a community of faith in Los Angeles. Jason teaches at Pepperdine University and speaks to a wide variety of audiences across the country.

Read an Excerpt

For almost a decade I’ve been a student of why and how people change. It is said in recovery culture that people change when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing. Aside from being really insightful, that’s more than a little depressing.

Of course, pain can be a great motivator of change, like when you pull your hand away from a hot stove. But thankfully, pain isn’t the only reason people change. In fact, many times change can be…well…fun. Think about some of the choices you’ve made that brought about change: going to college or getting married or pursuing an internship
or traveling overseas or accepting a job offer. It’s not likely that you made these or similar decisions because you were in pain. At least I hope not.

I have friends who went to grad school not because the pain of having an undergraduate degree was so great, but because the pleasure of having a graduate degree was so much greater. Likewise, how would you react if you heard someone say, “I got married because the pain of being alone became too great”?

How romantic.

Or if someone went after his dream job and said in the interview, “I’d like to work here because the pain of working with the bozos in Department C is just too great.”


What I love about life is that people change not only because of pain but very often because of pleasure. They change not only because their current life hurts but also because the future could feel so much better. Sometimes we change not to make something stop but to start something new. And right now, in your life and mine, there are things
waiting to be made new. Right now, there is a future out there waiting for you.

And it’s good. It’s not a future of endless pain but of fulfilling pleasure. It’s a future not of drudgery but of joy. And it’s worth changing for. It’s worth risking for.

You and Me and Life

The best advice I received before I started writing this book was to pick one person that I wanted to write to and write just for that person. I thought a lot about that. I thought about how I could write this book to a friend on the East Coast or a particular family member. I could pick someone of a specific spiritual background or a specific age. Faces
flashed in my mind. Whom to pick? Who needs this book the most? And after all that deliberation, I decided, at long last, to write this book to…myself. (What can I say? I’m a narcissist.)

Let me explain: I dedicated this book to someone else when I got done writing it. But I’ve discovered over the past several years that there are lots of people like me who face the same struggles I face. There are lots of people who experience the same frustrations with life as I do. I don’t know anyone better than I know myself, and I wanted
to write this book primarily because I needed it. The ideas in this book have changed my life, which is why I’m sharing them with you. My hope is that they’ll be as helpful to you as they have been to me.

I Am Not Brad Pitt

Several years ago I was working with a team of college students, and they arranged it so that a group of inner-city kids could come watch a college basketball game with us. Many of these kids had never been outside their neighborhoods, let alone to a real college arena with all the lights and cheering crowds.

During the course of the game, we bought the kids pizza. As I was handing out slices, one little girl tugged on my shirt. I looked down and she looked up and said, “Are you Brad Pitt?”

White people all look the same.

At the risk of stating the obvious: I am not Brad Pitt. Brad is famous and beautiful, and he has opportunities that most of us will never fully understand. This book was not written for him.

This book isn’t about how to be famous, nor is it about thrill seeking. It’s not about filling the void of our lives with near-death experiences so we can say we’ve really lived.

This is not a book where a number of naturally likable people tell you how you, too, can become more likable. This isn’t one of those books where naturally attractive and athletic people tell you how to win friends and influence people, make more money, and find awesome success. Nor will natural geniuses explain how you can raise your IQ.

I am a fairly normal guy. I have strengths and weaknesses just like everyone else. I have hopes and dreams and fears and insecurities. I’m responsible for my life, just like you’re responsible for your life. I have never gone skydiving. I have never gone shark diving. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve even bobbed for apples. I don’t drive a motorcycle or a fast car.

I don’t search for thrills, but I do search for life. I want to live a meaningful life, and my guess is you do too.

This book isn’t a typical self-help book. It’s my attempt to create a road map that leads to a more meaningful life and to challenge you to take the risks required to get there. Starting with chapter 1, I’ll be vigorously and joyfully attacking some of the most common ways we look at growth, learning, and the tools needed to accomplish both. I’ll
suggest that we should approach our own growth and learning in a very different, more exciting, and transformative way.

Here are some of the questions we’ll explore:
• What does it look like to create a lifestyle of healthy risk-taking?
• Why do the standard ways that we learn things almost always leave us unchanged?
• How can we learn in different ways so we can more rapidly become who we were meant to be?

As I was writing this book, I had a list that I wrote to remind me why what I was doing was important, and it eventually found its way into this introduction. I wrote it so that when things got tough, whenever I felt like giving up, I could look at the list and be reminded that this conversation matters. It’s a list of becauses.

The list applies to my life, to the message of this book, to my company—Spark Good—and I hope to your life as well. It serves as a manifesto of sorts for all of us who have decided that, finally, we are ready to do what it takes to change our lives and the world around us. When the process of change takes an unexpected turn and you start to feel discouraged, I invite you to use this list of becauses to help you stay the course.

I do what I do because tonight
• people feel more helpless than they truly are;
• people are suffering from solvable problems;
• people are lonely and desire to know and be known;
• people have undeveloped potential;
• good is trapped underneath our fear of failure;
• people are busy and distracted from the things they truly care about;
• people have leadership abilities that are undeveloped;
• ideas that could change the world are trapped in our minds;
• people are living lives of passivity;
• people are bored;
• people are anxious and don’t know why;
• people are restless for a deeper experience of God;
• people are drowning in a sea of information;
• people are overexposed to boring ideas that become exciting only when they are applied;
• people’s communities have grown stale and stagnant; and
• people have destinies that their wills are not yet able to create.
—The Spark Good Reasons, Summer 2011

This list pretty well sums up why, in 2009, I started creating groups to facilitate healthy risk-taking so people could live more meaningful lives. We call them Spark Groups. Out of these groups have emerged beautiful stories of risk and growth.

In fact, thousands of people could tell their stories in this book. And before long, you can tell your story too. The first risk of all is one that anyone can take: just keep reading.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ix

Introduction: Risky Business 1

Getting started

1 Creating Atomic Change 7

Why small is the new big

2 The Spark of Life 21

When the dust settles, what we're truly after

3 We Are Sleeping Giants 32

Embracing the dangerous implications of a powerful you

4 Our Power Is Not the Problem 43

A closer look at the tower of "put that down before you hurt somebody"

5 Learning Ourselves to Death 56

Redefining what it means to learn something

6 From Ruts to Risks 71

Breaking out of routine to create something new

7 When Good Goes Bad 80

The perils of suburban spirituality

8 Embracing Inspired Living 93

The questionable recruiting of God

9 Good Is Everywhere 105

How to see what God is doing. How to step into it

10 The Posture of Risk 115

How to move forward without losing your balance

11 Use What You Got 126

On lists, LEGOs, quirks, and quarks

12 The Secret Life of God 137

Also known as "Take your kid to work day"

13 Community on the Go 146

The gospel according to Ocean's Eleven

14 Life at the End of Ourselves 159

When what we've got is not enough, and why that's okay

15 On Becoming Strong 177

The value of challenges, obstacles, and all the other stuff we don't like

16 How to Spark Your World 191

Receiving the gift God most longs to give you

Appendix: What Counts as a Small Risk? 207

Notes 208

Customer Reviews

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Spark: Transform Your World, One Small Risk at a Time 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
asyl2012 More than 1 year ago
If nothing else, the Spark design team sure knows how to make a great book cover, but what is that faithful saying... "Don't judge a book by it's cover."  The main thrust of Juggard's book is transformation, as you can tell from the title, Transform Your World One Small Risk at a Time. Over and over again he points out that we are key to the change that we long to see in the world--how true this is! Nothing will begin to change (in a positive way) until we as believers do something to change it. That something for you may be taking a stand in the workplace or your school or not participating in an activity due to the influences. Maybe you are thinking, Allie, I already do that-- keep doing it! Small things add up. Remember the little boy in the Bible who brought Jesus 5 little loaves of bread and 2 small fishes? Jesus used his "small things" to feed 5,000 people. Think of the word spark, it allows us to vision a little twinkling of fire bursting forth into ignited flames. I would say that little boy with his small things was quite a spark by the end of that day, wouldn't you say? Many times as believers we feel the need to want immediate, drastic change in a situation, but often times this is not the case. Some situations will take days, months, even years until it is where we long for it to be. Don't get discouraged in this though, take hope in the fact that change is coming. This change will come through your dedicated prayer, your consistent, growing walk with Christ, and the constant encouragement of other faithful believers. What is that quote-- "Be the change you long to see in the world!" Be faithful, change is coming! Going back to my introduction, I will say that I was disappointed in the lack of "meat" in Spark. There were times on completion of a chapter, I felt as if the thought trying to be conveyed was lost--the intensity wasn't quite there. While reading, I would want to know where the author was going with his thought only to be disappointed at the end that it was not conveyed. The book seems more motivational and light than others I have read on change in the past. I might recommend this to a friend as an easy, motivational read, but nothing really beyond that.  I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah’s blogging for books and have given my honest review of this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Choose Life. That’s Life with a capital “L”. Jason Jaggard challenges us all to step out and take risks that will lead to an Life with God. In order to accomplish these risks he says that we must do these type of risks: 1. Immediate – something you will do in the next six days. 2. Controllable – something that is within your power to do. 3. Challenging – something that stretches your comfort zone. 4. Positive – something that makes your life or the world better. Jason tells us about “Spark Groups” that meet on a regular basis and challenge each other to take these risks. To me it seemed similar in nature to a “Small Group” although some small groups don’t necessarily open themselves up to taking risks. This is the challenge! This book reads very easily and can be done in one sitting, although to fully get the meaning, I recommend you go over each chapter a couple times and let it thoroughly sink in as to the challenge you will be doing by taking these risks. This can only lead to Life!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed the book Spark by Jason Jaggard.  The whole premise is to ask oneself "What's one thing I could do this week to better myself or better the world around me?"  The reader is inspired to take healthy risks that stretch the comfort zone, but the beautiful part is that it is for the purpose of serving humanity.  The personal stories and illustrations throughout the book are empowering to the reader.  "When we have the courage to take risks of compassion that produce optimism in others, we create space for God to move and work." 
LeadCoach More than 1 year ago
The best part about reading Jaggard's "Spark" is his gift for storytelling and gentle humor, including occasional self-effacing jabs.  The book is fast-paced and light. This is an easy read for anyone interested in the subject. On the down-side, the book offers little "meat."  There were entire chapters that, after I read them, I thought, "What was the point of that?  How did that chapter help me understand more about taking risks?"  So, while the writing is good and clear and engaging, it is not focused and always purposeful.  In the midst of reading, I often found myself wanting to ask Jaggard, "Jason, where are you going with this?"  The answer was not provided by the end of the chapter. Would I recommend the book? I don't think so. Would I tell someone who was reading it to stop?  No.  I would engage them in a conversation to see what they are learning.
smithk_poet More than 1 year ago
Igniting Your Potential In reviewing this book titled “SPARK”, the author share numerous insights and valuable information on changing your “I can’t “into an “I can” attitude. He reminds us that life is full of risks, but it’s how we handle the risks that matters. The author feels that we sometimes set low goals for ourselves instead of reaching for higher heights because of fear. The book touched on stepping out of one’s comfort zone and move forward in pursuing one’s dreams. We have the desire and a written goal to accomplish, but lack the confidence to move full speed ahead. We oftentimes overthink a thing and that creates a higher risk than it really is. For example, Jesus was walking on the water and Peter asks to come. Jesus told Peter to get out of the boat and come. We have to have that “Get out of the Boat” experience and have faith that we be achievers through Christ. The author shared some great stories in references to his message: What is your God-given potential that could affect the world and why not pursue it? I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
VicG More than 1 year ago
Jason Jaggard in his new book, “Spark” published by Waterbrook Press shows us how to Transform Your World, One Small Risk at a Time. From the Back cover: Unleash change in the world. One Spark at a time. Ask yourself this: What’s the one thing I could do this week to have an impact on the world around me? Does the idea of acting on the answer to that question get your heart beating a little faster? If so, you’re probably connecting with an explosive opportunity. God has placed enormous potential inside you for a lifestyle of risk-taking that leads to creative joy, love, strength and peace. All of that needs to be unleashed, one spark at a time. As Jason Jaggard explains, change begins when you question much of what you’ve been taught and start looking at life in a different way. Consider these questions: What does it look like to intentionally take healthy risks? Why do the standard ways that we learn things almost always leave us unchanged? How can we learn in new ways so we can more rapidly become who we are meant to be? If you desire to do what it takes to change your life and the world, use Spark as a catalyst to start today. Partner with God and others to accomplish something beautiful that serves humanity. When you step outside your comfort zone, your experience of life will become more vibrant and full… Your world will begin to change. One Spark at a time. The Dictionary defines “Spark” as, “an ignited or fiery particle such as is thrown off by burning wood or produced by one hard body striking against another.” or “anything that activates or stimulates; inspiration or catalyst.” Jason Jaggard feels that all we have to do is take one small risk and that one action will be the spark that will ignite our world and be the catalyst for change in ourselves. We manage to get comfortable in our routines. We do practically the same things every day, we may be busy but we are busy in our comfortable routines. We need to create a spark that will ignite something not only in our lives but in the world around us. Jason Jaggard walks us through what we need to know so that change can begin in us and the sparks can ignite. To start the car we need a spark. To get us going in a new manner we also need a spark. Jason Jaggard does a much better job in his book, “Spark” than I ever will. I recommend reading this book and experiencing how to spark new into our lives. You will be blessed. I recommend this book highly! If you would like to listen to interviews with other authors and professionals please go to Kingdom Highlights where they are available On Demand. To listen to 24 hours non-stop, commercial free Christian music please visit our internet radio station Kingdom Airwaves Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”